Fertility Musings, Questions & Answers and News

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Egg donation in Israel

It's currently practically impossible to receive an egg donation in Israel. The only women who are allowed to donate are those who are undergoing infertility treatment - exactly the women who need those eggs most. Having been one of those women whose doctor approached her with a form to sign while I was still half under anesthesia, I can tell you how desperate they are for donations (enough to completely con people, seriously). Like in the example of Prof. Zion Ben-Raphael who was convicted of overstimulating women's ovaries in order to produce excess eggs and then steal them from him. (See Jpost article, which also includes details of the new bill)

So this is a real breakthrough for Israel - one that would allow women to donate eggs whether or not they were going through fertility treatments AND to receive some kind of compensation for it.

I hope that this will allow more women who need egg donations to get them and will reduce the pressure on women who don't want to give theirs up.



Sunday, August 23, 2009

PCOS, Acupuncture, Surrogacy & Donor Gamete Babies

In this article published by NewsMax (which my dad sent me), they discuss a recent study performed by Elisabet Stener Victorin at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. In it, they studied women diagnosed as having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

During the study, one group of women with polycystic ovary syndrome received acupuncture regularly for four months. They received a type of acupuncture known as “electro acupuncture”, in which the needles are stimulated with a weak low frequency electric current, similar to that developed during muscular work. A second group of women were provided with heart rate monitors and instructed to exercise at least three times a week. A control group was informed about the importance of exercise and a healthy diet, but was given no other specific instructions.

The results showed more normal menstruation and significantly lower testosterone levels in the group who received acupuncture.

My mom sent me this article (yeah, sounds like I no longer have to do any of my own research) about children born via surrogacy, egg donation and sperm donation. Polly Casey from the Centre for Family Research at Britain's Cambridge University studied nearly 200 families – 128 with children born using assisted reproduction of one of the types mentioned above and 70 conceived without ART. She found that “the family types did not differ in the overall quality of the relationship between mothers and their children and fathers and their children”.

The article also discusses parents’ intentions as to revealing donor and surrogacy issues to their children and what they actually chose to do by the time the children were seven years old.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

How much of us is our genes?

In 7th grade in Israel, the kids spend the entire year researching their families. They interview them one-by-one, create family trees, and discuss traditions and recipes handed down from generation to generation. The grand finale is an evening in which everyone prepares a family recipe and brings it to the school and then listen to a whole lot of speeches about what our roots mean to us.

Some of the speeches annoyed me. I know that there's a girl in the 7th grade who was adopted shortly after birth and there could be others, so statements like, "If we don't know our past we will never know our future" just sounded wrong to me. Do adoptees feel that the parents who raised them had no impact on their lives? And how about kids born from sperm or egg donation? How do they feel when they hear things like this? And then we can go to an even simpler example - what about a child who grew up in a single parent home because one parent just walked out one day? (I can think of several readers of this blog who were in that situation.) Does the fact that a parent was far from perfect mean that they don't have a chance to be amazing people?

I realize that schools can't ignore the fact that most children have two pretty-much-OK biological parents, both of whom they have contact with on a regular basis, but is there some way to make everyone feel like they're OK even if they don't know exactly what their genetic heritage is? Thoughts?

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Egg Donation Questions

I got a letter from Jenny (not her real name) with a lot of interesting questions about egg donation. If you've ever given it thought, I'm sure Jenny would be happy for your insight:

I am considering donating my eggs. I feel like I would be giving up one of my kids. How do I know the people getting my egg will treat my baby with love? How do I know my child wont be abused? I have 3 wonderful healthy boys. How would I tell them what I did, if I decided to donate my eggs? How do I know the people who get my baby will not give him or her up because s/he turns out to be the wrong sex? What will happen to my baby if the people who have my baby die an early death? I have all these questions and don't know were to find the answers. I love my boys I have now. And would not give them up to any one for anything. Will people think I am "selling" my child if I decide to donate my eggs. I would love to help another loving couple to have a baby. I want them to feel the love I have for my boys. But how do I know that they will love my baby? How do I know the woman receiving my egg will love the baby just like he or she were her very own? Will I be able to get to  know my biological child? I have so many mixed emotions. can anyone help?



Wednesday, July 18, 2007


First of all, I promised more information - I'm going to be at BlogHer 2007 in Chicago next week. I'm hoping to start a discussion on the use of widgets to encourage reader participation in blogs, with the most successful of these that I've employed so far being the Yedda widget (you can see it on the right sidebar below). I haven't been in the US since April 1994, so it's been a while.

In order to be able to go, I needed to finalize Nomi's weaning. Nomi, as you may or may not remember, is almost 16-months-old and is allergic to just about everything (milk, eggs, sesame seeds, tree nuts, peanuts, and bananas), so nursing her was a safe solution. Except that some things really pass through the milk. For a few months I was completely off these things (great for weight loss), but as time went by, I ended up staying off eggs, nuts and peanuts and sesame seeds (which seem to give her the worst reaction). So since October, I've avoided them almost completely. Now that Nomi hasn't nursed for almost 4 days & there's no chance I'll put her back on, I can finally eat these again - so here's my question:

Back to infertility issues. I read all of Peggy Orenstein's article in Sunday's New York Times. I liked the article and thought it was written well. I recommend it to anyone who's considering using either sperm or egg donation.

Karen is now on bedrest after her cervix seems to have shortened. I hope her doctor will soon go back to talking about the planned c-section at 34 weeks.

Watson had a scare this week. Having been through the same (without the PGD), it makes me annoyed at the medical staff who passes on partial information without thinking of the implications. Fortunately, the doctor who did my scan gave me a lot more information before I went home.

Faith is also going through a scare. Weren't things easier before there were so many scans?

Sorry for only mentioning a few... I am just so swamped with work that needs to be done before the conference.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Ovarian Transplants

Stacy sent in the most incredible story - at 25 she was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure & her FSH was over 100. She was told she would never be able to have children of her own. Fortunately, Stacy had a trick up her sleeve. She is an identical twin, so she asked her sister to donate eggs & went through IVF with the eggs that would hopefully give her and her husband children that, genetically, would be identical to those she should have been able to have naturally. But the IVF failed & Stacy and her sister were devastated, until they heard about ovarian tissue transplants.

Ovarian transplant is currently only available to identical twins and as far as I can tell, it's only being done at St. Luke's Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. The most famous case is of Stephanie Yarber, who is the first woman to have delivered a baby after ovarian transplant (includes a video of the doctor who delivered the baby), but since then, at least 4 others have delivered healthy babies.


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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Using donor eggs

Using donor eggs is often a last resort. I got this letter from one of the readers who wanted others to share their thoughts:

I am 40 and have been diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve. I had a miscarriage a year ago after a year of trying and have been trying since. My OB told me after the miscarriage that if she didn't see me back in six months then she would assume we changed our mind. Well after six months of no luck I went back and was referred to a reproductive endocronologist. We have tried the ovarian stimulation route and I simply can't be "controlled" - no matter how many eggs I produce only one ovulates. We haven't even considered IVF with my eggs because our odds are so low - 3 cycles with a 10% bring home a baby rate. We don't have insurance coverage for any of this. Our budget is limited. So trying IVF and then looking at donor egg isn't financially possible.

We are considering donor egg as our best odds of having a child. I guess I feel a bit strange reading these other stories of women who are so worried about their genetic link to the child. Maybe I am just fooling myself but it just doesn't seem to bother me. I think (at least at this point) that if I carry the child and give birth and care for it then it is my child. I do however, feel strongly that I want to carry my husband's child. We have been together for 23 years. I can't quite explain why I am more comitted to his genetics than my own.

I hope I am just not lying to myself and that at some point this will all come crashing down. Some of it might have to do with the fact that my husband was diagnosed with MS five years ago - and his first two years were rough - I almost lost him. That is why we delayed having children - it turned our lives upside down. He has now been in remission for almost three years and his doctors are very confident he will remain so. I guess that brush with mortality made me want to keep a part of him come what may - even though he is incredibly stubborn and drives me crazy :) Has anyone else felt this way - a lack of concern that the child wouldn't be genetically hers?



Thursday, January 19, 2006

Egg Donation

Q - I have an 11-year-old from egg donation and want to discuss with him his beginnings. Have other people done this? How? How was the outcome for the child learning his or her origins? I am getting cold feet now that he is of an age where he will understand, but I still want to tell the truth. We have lost touch with his donor but kept up with her his first few years of his life. I cannot find any literature or advice on this topic. Thanks for your help!

A - I found the following article that might help you:


If you go ahead with you plans & you're interested in sharing the experience, I would be very interested to hear how it goes.

Response - Thanks for the article. It gives me the confidence to proceed and know it is felt to be the best to disclose egg donation. It is likely the more difficult questions will come later but now at 11 I think he needs to know. Knowing the donor for a while and admiring her helps make it easier.

Q - If a woman is very healthy and 54 years old, is it still possible to have a baby using donor eggs and IVF?

A - It is possible for a healthy 54-year-old woman to carry a baby conceived using donor eggs and IVF. Please see my post on this topic.

Q - I am interested in becoming an egg donor, but I don't know where to begin. Any recommendations?

A - We're not affiliated with any organizations. You may find some helpful information and links on our egg donors page.

Q - Is it common for a sister to donate eggs to another sister who is infertile?

A - I don't know how common it is, but I have read about some such cases. An advantage, of course, is the biological connection. A disadvantage is that it may cause conflict between the sisters.

Q - Can a woman who is taking anti-depressants donate eggs?

A - No. Other contraindications are smoking, drug use, use of anti-anxiety medication, history of mental illness and many other health indications.